University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Research Programs


Spring 2016

Alexandra Schultheis Moore, “What Can Human Rights Films Do?: Precarity and the Politics of Visuality in Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence”
Thursday, March 31st, 2016
4:00 pm
Austin 217 (Stern Room)
Storrs Campus

Professor Moore (University of North Carolina, Greensboro) is co-editor of four landmark collections on human rights and literature, including the MLA’s Options for Teaching Series, Teaching Human Rights in Literary and Cultural Studies (2015) and the Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights (2015). Her most recent monograph is Vulnerability and Security in Human Rights Literature and Visual Culture (2015).

Sponsored by the Human Rights Institute Research Program on Humanitarianism.

Reading Group with Keith Watenpaugh on Bread from Stones: The Middle East and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism
April 13, 2016, 12:00 – 2:00 pm
Administrative Conference Room, Thomas J. Dodd Center
Keith David Watenpaugh is a historian of the Modern Middle East and Professor and Director of Human Rights Studies at University of California, Davis.

Reading Group with Elizabeth Hinton on From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America
April 28, 2016, 12:00 – 2:00 pm
Room 162
Thomas J. Dodd Center
Elizabeth Hinton is Assistant Professor in the Department History and the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Hinton’s research focuses on the persistence of poverty and racial inequality in the 20th century United States. Her current scholarship considers the transformation of domestic social programs and urban policing after the Civil Rights Movement.


Fall 2015

Nadifa Mohamed, “Writing Women, Writing War”
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
4:00pm – 6:00pm
Storrs Campus
Stern Lounge, Austen 217

Somali-British novelist Nadifa Mohamed discusses the challenges of writing about women engaged in and affected by conflict. Mohamed was one of Granta’s “Best of Young British Novelists” and her debut novel Black Mamba Boy won the 2010 Betty Trask Award, and was shortlisted for numerous awards, including the 2010 Guardian First Book Award, the 2010 Dylan Thomas Prize, and the 2010 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. She was born in Hargeysa, Somaliland and moved to the UK at the age of six.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of English and the Research Program on Humanitarianism at the Human Rights Institute.

Reading Group with Charlotte Walter-Said, “The Historiography of Human Rights in Africa”
Thursday, October 22, 2015
12:00-2:00 pm
Dodd 162

Charlotte Walker-Said will join us from John Jay College (CUNY) with a presentation on the historiography of human rights in Africa. Walker-Said works on the transnational character of Christianity and its influence on gender politics and family law in French Cameroon.

Magnet Scholar Thomas Keenan
Theme for 2015-2016: On Theories of Evidence
October 1, 2015, 4-6 pm in Austin 217
December 3, 2015, 4-6 pm in Dodd 162
February 12, 2016, 12-3pm in Dodd 162

Professor Keenan is Director of the Human Rights Program and Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard College. He is author of Fables of Responsibility (1997); Mengele’s Skull (with Eyal Weizman, 2012); articles in PMLA, South Atlantic Quarterly, Grey Room, New York Times, Aperture, Cabinet. Coeditor, New Media, Old Media (with Wendy Chun, 2005; 2nd edition with Wendy Chun and Anna Fisher, 2015);The Human Snapshot (with Tirdad Zolghadr, 2013); and The Flood of Rights (with Suhail Malik and Tirdad Zolghadr, 2016). Editorial and advisory board member, Journal of Human Rights, Grey Room, Humanity, and Scholars at Risk Network. Curator, Antiphotojournalism (with Carles Guerra, 2010–11) and Aid and Abet (2011).

Spring 2015

Dr. Ryan Carlin, “What Kinds of Justice do Colombians Want from the Peace Process?”
Thursday, March 12, 2015
12:00 pm
Oak Hall, Room 438
Storrs Campus

Dr. Carlin is associate professor of political science at Georgia State University. He is the co-editor of The Latin American Voter: Pursuing Representation and Accountability in Challenging Contexts and the author of numerous articles in leading political science journals. His main research field is comparative political behavior with an emphasis on Latin America and other research interests include natural disaster politics, social preferences, rule of law, and political institutions. In this talk Dr. Carlin will present research looking at how Colombians view the ongoing negotiations between the government and FARC and how public opinion constrains the ability of the government to make concessions to former combatants. This research is funded by the Institute for International Education and USAID.

This event is co-sponsored by: the Research Program on Humanitarianism, the Human Rights Institute, the Department of Political Science, and El Instituto.

Lidwien E. Kapteijns, “Clan Cleansing in Somalia: Coming into Speech and Writing History in the Aftermath”
Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
4:00-6:00 pm
Dodd 162
Storrs Campus

Lidwien Kapteijns is Kendall/Hodder Professor of History and teaches African and Middle Eastern history at Wellesley College. Before turning to Somali studies in the late 1988, she lived and worked in the Sudan and published about late pre-colonial Sudanese history. Her 1999 book Women’s Voices in a Man’s World: Women and the Pastoral Tradition in Northern Somali Orature, c. 1899-1980 (with Maryan Omar Ali), deals with notions of proper womanhood in Somali folklore texts and in the Somali popular songs of the 1960s-1980s. Clan Cleansing in Somalia: The Ruinous Legacy of 1991, an analysis of Somali civil war violence in text and context, came out with the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2013 (paperback, 2014).

Fall 2014

Elizabeth Samet, “Reading and Writing War in a Sentimental Age”
Monday, September 29, 2014
12:30pm – 2:00pm
Storrs Campus
Dodd Center 162

Professor Samet teaches English at West Point. She is the author of the widely discussed Soldier’s Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point, winner of a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a selection for three “notable book of the year” lists: The New York Times, USA Today, and Christian Science Monitor. Professor Samet recently completed a Guggenheim Fellowship and will be speaking about her recent work on war writing.

This seminar is co-sponsored with the Research Program on Humanitarianism and the Human Rights Institute.

Avelina Crespo, “Portraiture and Its Uncertainties”
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
4:00pm – 5:30pm
Storrs Campus
Dodd 162

Ecuadorian photographer, Avelina Crespo will discuss her portraiture project “Fotos Gratis”. Portraiture is the most ubiquitous photographic practice in human rights work. Think of all the portraits that grace the websites of NGOs! This talk by a practitioner will explore the challenges of portraiture and the theoretical debates about the practice.
Avelina Crespo is an Ecuadorian photographer with an extensive artistic experience internationally, having practiced and lived in Ecuador, France, Peru, Brazil, Chile and the United States. She received her BA in History from Georgetown University. She studied photography at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. and recently completed a Diploma in Art History at the University of British Columbia. The Fotos Gratis series (2002-2011) is an ongoing project.

Sponsored by the Research Program on Humanitarianism

Meghan Marie Hammond, “The Empathy Imperative: Feelings with Others in the Humanities Classroom”
Thursday, October 16th, 2014
5:00 pm
Austin Hall 217

Meghan Marie Hammond teaches in the Humanities Core at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Empathy and the Psychology of Literary Modernism (Edinburgh UP) and the co-editor of Rethinking Empathy through Literature (Routledge).

Sponsored by the Department of English, the Humanities Institute, and the Research Program on Humanitarianism of the Human Rights Institute.


In 2013-2014 RPH focused its events on the topic of the Narration and Documentation of War. This was the second year of a planned three year project on this topic that draws faculty from English, History, Languages, Cultures, & Literatures, Political Science, Anthropology and Sociology. In the fall, we hosted James Dawes (Macalester) who presented work from his book on perpetrators, Evil Men. The research program sponsored HRI’s annual film series and organized it on the theme “Aftermath: Human Rights and the Consequences of War.” The film series, which consistently draws a large audience of our undergraduate majors as well as faculty, also had two invited speakers who led lively discussions of the films: Serena Parekh (Northeastern University) and film maker Kalyanee Mam.

Research Theme
How is the record of war created? This “how” encompasses a broad range of practices and the research theme is meant to cast a wide net. The question, moreover, implies a historical orientation for this project, but we may also want to consider the ways in which constructions of the past shape our decision-making about war in the present, or articulate visions of our future (for example, when policy attempts to shape “intended” consequences of military action). What narratives are in place anticipating conflict? Moreover, what is the potential tension between practices of narration and documentation?

The rubric “war” has widened under the pressure of various critiques (most notably feminist critique) to encompass a lot more than combat. Several colleagues have asked why use the term “war” and not refer instead to conflict, or armed conflict.The premise for launching this project is that war is a rhetorical construction that is widely used in our culture and has deep resonance that needs careful analysis. To call it a construction is not to diminish its relation to the real but to highlight the way in which the term helps produce the real.It has become almost cliché to talk about the impossibility of representing the traumatic experience of war violence and, paradoxically, this anxiety has generated a wealth of approaches to the analysis of narrative. At the same time, it has become all the more imperative to put pressure on the myriad practices of documenting war that are validated as somehow supra-narrative, or uncorrupted by storytelling. Whereas my statement implies a suspicion of such documentation and hints at the likelihood that any collection of facts is already organized according to certain narrative principles, the effort to reshape narratives of war must draw from a set of reconfigured facts leading us back to practices of documentation. Thus it is the synergy of narration and documentation that is of interest, rather than presuming that the terms stand independently of each other.

Sponsored by the Research Program on Humanitarianism of the Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut

Schedule of Events

9:30-9:45 Opening remarks, Eleni Coundouriotis (English) and self-introduction of

9:45-10:30 Christine Sylvester (Political Science and Gothenburg University), “Terror/War: Narrating Boston Through Iraq”

10:30-11:15 Margaret Higonnet (English), “Margins of War Narratives”

11:15-12:00 Guillermo Irizarry, “Frames of War in Francisco Goldman’s Long Night of

12:45-1:30 Richard A. Wilson (Anthropology and Law School), “Criminalizing Hate Speech and War Propaganda at International Tribunals”

1:30-2:15 Bhakti Shringarpure (English), “War as Refuge: Third World Feminists Re-
imagine the Self and the Nation”

2:25-3:10 Sebastian Wogenstein (Literatures, Cultures and Languages), “Hölderlin in the Soldier’s Knapsack: Poetry and World War I”

3:10-3:55 Cyrus Ernesto Zirakzadeh (Political Science), “Re-Imagining Civil War and Promoting Political Order: Images of Irresponsible Citizens and Peru’s 2001-2003 Truth and Reconciliation Commission”

3:55-4:30 Wrap-up discussion


Lecture by Ilana Feldman (George Washington University). February 7, 2012 at 4 pm. (more details to follow)

Panel Discussion: Teaching Human Rights in Literary and Cultural Studies.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012, 4:00pm – 6:00pm, CLAS, 217, Storrs Campus.

Discussion with Co-Directors of Breaking the Silence
Thursday, October 04, 2012, 4:00pm – 5:30pm, Laurel 206, Storrs Campus.

Workshop on “Post-Humanitarian Communication” with Prof. Lilie Chouliaraki, director of the PhD Programme in Media and Communications, London School of Economics. Sunday March 25, 2012 2:30 – 5:30 PM in Art Building 222

Lecture “World Citizenship and Complicitous Consumption” by Prof. Jennifer Wenzel, University of Michigan. Wednesday March 28, 2012 at 3:30 PM in CLAS 217

Public Roundtable Discussion “Humanitarianism and its Ghosts: Responding to Famine in Somalia.” For more information, click here. Wednesday April 11, 2012 at 2:00 PM in Humanities Institute Library (3rd Floor of CLAS).


“Afghanistan in the Vortex: Humanitarianism in Question,” roundtable discussion with policy analysts, reporters, and practitioners (April 2011)


“The Arts and Human Rights in Latin America: Perspectives from Marcelo Brodsky and Alfredo Jaar,” a public presentation by two of the foremost Latin American artists (March 2010)

Lectures by prominent scholars including Dr. Keith Watenpaugh (Religious Studies and Human Rights, UC Davis) and Dr. Eduardo Cadava (English and Comparative Literature, Princeton)


Fall 2008: In the Balance: Humanitarianism and Responsibility (

**Papers from this conference and more recent responses to the question of humanitarianism and responsibility are currently being collated for a special edition of the Journal of Human Rights, co-edited by Kerry Bystrom and Glenn Mitoma, scheduled for publication in December 2012.


Co-sponsorship of Connecticut Repertory Theatre productions including David Edgar’s compelling play on refugee crises, Pentecost, directed by Gary English (December 2007)


Fall 2006: Humanitarianism and Narratives of Inflicted Suffering (2006 HRI Conference)
**A collection of papers from this conference was published as an edited volume by Richard A. Wilson and Richard D. Brown, Humanitarianism and Suffering: The Mobilization of Empathy (Cambridge UP 2009)